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Ernesto Lecuona

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Ernesto Lecuona

Biography

Ernesto Lecuona y Casado (7 August 1896, Guanabacoa, Cuba - 29 November 1963, Tenerife) was a Cuban composer and pianist. He began his music studies at an early age, learning to play the piano and composing while very young. He later studied at the Peyrellade Conservatoire under Antonio Saavedra and the famous Joaquin Nin. Lecuona graduated from the National Conservatory of Havana with a Gold Medal for interpretation when he was sixteen. And he performed outside of Cuba at the Aeolian Hall (New York) in 1916.

In 1918 he collaborated with Luis Casas Romero, Moisés Simons, Jaime Prats, Nilo Menéndez and Vicente Lanz in setting up a successful player piano music roll factory in Cuba producing Cuban music and also copies from masters made by QRS in the USA. The brand label was "Rollo Autógrafo"

He first travelled to Spain in 1924 on a concert tour with violinist Marta de la Torre; his successful piano recitals in 1928 at Paris coincided with a rise in interest in Cuban music.

He had a rhumba band which became quite popular, and he wrote many songs and pieces for piano which utilized native Cuban melodies and rhythms. Almost all of his works, with the exception of Rhapsodia Negra, are very short. He is best known for Malaguena, which is actually a movement of a suite entitled Andalucia. Lecuona's talent for composition has influenced the Latin American world in a way quite similar to George Gershwin in the United States, in his case raising Cuban music to classical status.

A great deal of Lecuona's music was first introduced to mass American audiences by Desi Arnaz, a fellow Cuban and Lucille Ball's spouse.


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